Upgrade to increase power at Nevada mines

By Mike Brezonick04 October 2022

Wärtsilä will upgrade the performance of a captive power plant supplying electricity to a Nevada Gold Mines mining operation in the USA. The customized lifecycle upgrade is estimated to increase the facility’s power output on each generating set by 8%, support operational reliability, and ensure its availability during peak periods. It will avoid de-rating in almost all situations caused by the severe ambient conditions at the plant’s high-altitude location in the Nevada desert.

Wärtsilä 34SG gas engines Wärtsilä will provide an upgrade to 14 34SG gas engines engines operating at a gold mine in Nevada. (Photo: Wärtsilä)

The upgrade includes the installation of Wärtsilä’s UNIC engine control system, an all-inclusive automation system designed to provide reliable performance in demanding environments. This, together with the added power output, will minimize the risk of outages during the three-month long peak summer season, Wärtsilä said.

The upgrade will also increase efficiency and allow less constant operation of the engines, which in turn will lower emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“By increasing the load during the peak season, we can increase our operational flexibility since at times we can have one engine on hot standby, instead of running more engines on part load,” said John Seeliger, Regional Energy manager for Nevada Gold Mines. “This will reduce carbon emissions while also generating some cost savings. We appreciate Wärtsilä’s professional approach and support in analysing our situation and recommending the actions needed by both our O&M provider, PIC Group and Wärtsilä.”

The plant operates with 14 Wärtsilä 34SG gas engines. It was originally installed in 2005 with a net output of 115.6 MW. Upon completion of the upgrade, the facility output will be increased to 128 MW. The upgrade will commence in January 2023 and will be carried out in phases to coincide with the plant’s major overhaul schedule. In this way, power production can be maintained to minimise the impact to the mine’s operations.

“Our lifecycle support includes important upgrade projects, such as this one,” said Jon Rodriguez, director, Engine Power Plants, North America, Wärtsilä Energy. “Wärtsilä has the capability and experience to apply the latest technologies to extend and modify the power plant’s life and performance in line with the customer’s evolving needs.”

Nevada Gold Mines is a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp., which operates the mine, and Newmont Corp. that combined their significant assets across Nevada in 2019 to create the single largest gold producing complex in the world. Both Barrick and Newmont are established Wärtsilä customers with plants in various parts of the world operating with Wärtsilä engines.

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